Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Guest Post Following up on My Court Records Post

A brief introduction and an apology: the following came via e-mail after publishing Court Files, Court Records and Getting Them and the delay came about due to the need to deal with work. This is my first guest post. The formatting got lost in translation, so I will apologize for that also. I want to point out that this e-mail underscores just how little data we have on our courts.

I'll start with a disclosure- I work with one of the companies that "competes" with the Odyssey system by providing an alternative that works today and costs the taxpayers nothing. It *does* cost attorneys something, but in total, considerably less that the fees and taxes assessed to pay for the State's system. To give you an idea of the difference in expense, the annual salary costs for JTAC staff alone is about three times gross receipts in the last year. Their entire budget for 2009 was roughly 12 times our gross receipts. 50 counties use our system, so much of the court information in the State is in fact centrally available.

Here are several pieces of information that may have been unclear from the article you saw: 1) The Odyssey system doesn't include document imaging, so despite the $89 Million (per the LSA) spent by the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee so far, you still can't obtain complete public case documents from any of the counties that use the Odyssey system without visiting the courthouse. What you can get is part of the CCS. 2) The system procured by the Kosciusko clerk *does* include document imaging and the ability to share all public court information, including document images on-line.

Five clerks using that system requested permission from the Division of State Court Administration in April 2008 to make documents available on-line, more clerks have sought permission since then, but the Division of State Court Administration has not yet acted on those requests. It is not inferior technology or the unwillingness of local clerks that has kept these records bound up in the county courthouses. It is within the State Court Administrative Division's power to grant this access, and they have simply not allowed it. This may be because the Odyssey system doesn't stack up very well in comparison to the existing systems and this will become apparent if access is allowed. The Kosciusko clerk has opted to use a system that costs less per court than Odyssey and is capable of providing more of the type of access you would like to see. Of course, a press release from the folks promoting Odyssey won't highlight that distinction. Sadly, most newspaper articles on the topic are nearly verbatim reprints of those releases.

I am willing to chat further with you about this if you are interested- I also wouldn't mind posting any of the information above as a comment on your blog, just posting a comment felt a bit like starting an argument instead of a dialogue. Since I'm in agreement with you basic premise that broader access to court information is, I thought I'd start with a personal communication to correct some of the inaccuracies in that article and invite further discussion. Best Regards, -Nick


Kevin Cook said...

More Exciting News!

I want to share some very exciting news regarding CSI’s statewide case management system. Most people close to this subject know that CSI is a Hoosier company that pioneered court case management software for Indiana in 1986 that is currently used by 127 courts in 51 Hoosier counties. CSI’s statewide case management system manages nearly 40% of the state’s non-traffic case load.

In 2001, the Indiana Supreme Court went against a national computer consulting opinion and decided to compete against CSI and the competitive marketplace using $90 Million of Hoosier taxpayer money. After $90 Million and at a continuing cost of over $10 Million per year, the Indiana Supreme Court’s Odyssey system is fully used by only 13 Hoosier counties, manages less than 10% of the non-traffic case load in Indiana and has put local courts and prosecutors at odds with the Indiana Supreme Court because of Odyssey’s lack of proper sharing of court information, no document management system, and no criminal e-filing system.

The exciting news is that effective July 1, 2009, the Indiana Supreme Court and their JTAC division were mandated by law to interface and share information in their systems (Odyssey, e-Citations, Protective Order Registry). With the Indiana Supreme Court finally being mandated to share their court information and if the Indiana Supreme Court complies and would approve CSI’s statewide criminal e-filing and our ability to post public court documents to Doxpop, Indiana will finally have a statewide system without the need for the Indiana Supreme Court to spend another $90 Million to compete against competitive marketplace or to force local courts into a one-size-fits-all system that most local courts do not want or need.

Other great news, the Indiana Legislature is looking into the tremendous cost burden and lack of acceptance of the Odyssey system. Two other states have attempted a similar one-size-fits-all statewide system like Odyssey only to have the same lack of success with a tremendous cost burden to taxpayers. The California Supreme Court and Oklahoma Supreme Court statewide systems like Odyssey have been spectacular failures (see and

Senator Steele has a bill in this legislative session (SB60) that will hopefully give the legislature, several elected county officials and other stakeholders of court information representation on an commission that will provide much needed oversight of the Indiana Supreme Court’s Odyssey system and all of their redundant software systems.
If passed, this bill will finally give legislators and other stakeholders a voice in a realm where they currently have had little input.

CSI would like to thank our 51 Hoosier counties that have made our statewide system so successful and look forward to partnering with more Hoosier counties for many more years to come.

Kevin Cook
President, CSI

Sam Hasler said...

Thanks. My apology for not responding earlier.